UFC has been in a tricky political situation considering a number of athletes from problematic regions.
While flags were once welcome during face offs, walk outs and celebrations in the octagon – they’re no longer welcome. This is something Li Jingliang came to learn the hard way.
But after an incident in which Li Jingliang pointed to a flag in the crowd and got it. Followed by a UFC official snatching it away the UFC is taking a harsher stance on the policy.
Several other athletes also revealed that the promotion warned them not to bring out their flags.
One of them is featherweight contender Sodiq Yusuff. The 29-year-old revealed that the UFC threatened to fine him if he insisted on carrying the Nigeria flag.
“The flag thing, it was so weird,” Yusuff explained on a podcast episode.
. “They always let me wear my bandana, but that weekend, they told me, they said, ‘Hey, if you wear the flag, we’re gonna fine you a lot of money.’ So it wasn’t worth it. They were like, ‘You can’t wear it anywhere the UFC cameras are gonna catch.’” Yusuff said.
He also explained his speculation about the ban and believes the Russian invasion of Ukraine is the main reason.
“Because I think of what’s going on with Russia and Ukraine. They don’t want them to wear the flag because of the war, so they said they can’t just single them out, they said they’re gonna do everybody. So nobody can wear their flag.”
This is something Dana White confirmed without explicitly saying so.
Ahead of Petr Yan and Aljamain Sterling clash at UFC 273, UFC quietly instituted a new ban – on athletes carrying flags in the cage.
Petr Yan confirmed the flag ban went into effect prior to UFC 273 – due to the fact he uses the flag in his walk outs.
“Before our tournament it already wasn’t allowed to go out with flags,” said Yan, according to Match TV.
This came after Aljamain Sterling and his team posed with a Ukrainian flag in lead up to event.
At the press conference athlete White smirked and confirmed the obvious in addition to explaining the ban was there to stay.
White didn’t provide specifics just confirmed the ban was instituted with a simple ‘Yes’ and added ‘You know why.’